Renewed flooding in Mozambique 28 Mar 2001

Situation Report
Originally published
Oxfam Update on Flooding in Mozambique
Over the weekend floodwaters rose again on the Zambezi River in Central Mozambique, with more than 150,000 people now having been forced from their homes. The giant Cahora Bassa dam was forced to open a fourth gate because of continued rain upstream in Zambia, with water expected to rise further downstream later in the week. As the flooding goes into its second month, thousands of people who refused to leave their homes earlier have now run out of food and are moving to accommodation centers. In some areas along the Zambezi valley (e.g., Tete Province) local authorities have decided to resume evacuations, which had been suspended when the levels of the Zambezi River had started dropping.

When water began to rise in late January, tens of thousands of people were moved from low ground by boat--both local canoes and by the Mozambican Navy with rubber boats donated for last year's floods. Often some family members moved while others stayed behind to guard houses and animals.

By late February TV crews had arrived, but to their disgust, people refused to be rescued by the helicopters carrying the journalists. In part this reflected a fear of helicopters, which many people in the area had never seen before, and which cause wind and waves as they hover. And in part, people felt they had enough reserves to sit out the flood, because floods in recent times have only lasted a few days. A month later, with the water still high, these people are making their own way, by foot and boat, to accommodation centers.

The INGC (the National Disasters Management Institute) says that food and other essential supplies are being dropped by air to places throughout the Zambezi valley where the floods have made access by road impossible. Currently food aid is being distributed to over 120,000 people in the central provinces (up from 108,000 people who required food aid earlier in the month).

Local analysts and relief workers observe that as in last year's floods further south in Mozambique, the main need for international assistance is not in the rescue phase, but to feed and keep healthy the large number of people who are displaced.

Just a year ago when the Save, Limpopo and Incomati Rivers flooded, boats and helicopters rescued 45,000 people, but there were more than 550,000 people in accommodation centers. The seven air forces that came from Europe and the United States to help were used not for rescue, but for air drops of food, tents and medicines to isolated people. That support was vital to keeping people alive and healthy, but by then the TV cameras had left, so that success of international help was not reported.

Intermon Oxfam

Discussions are under way regarding possible funding of a housing project through Intermon's partner in Beira. A concrete proposal is being finalized and should be sent out soon. Once received OA will engage in more detail with Intermon Oxfam on the way forward.

Oxfam Great Britain

Oxfam Great Britain is preparing to meet the clean water, hygiene, and sanitation needs of 25,000 people. They have increased their resources in terms of water kits, personnel and have even extended the duration of the project until May (up from the initial 6-week intervention).

Oxfam America

We are finalizing a proposal from our partner organization, KULIMA, that includes health education, sanitation, and survival kits. Based on fresh developments and on information provided by our consultant in Manica Province, we are now considering supporting a partner in Manica (UCAMA, Association of Peasant Farmers of Manica, the local chapter of Oxfam partner UNAC). Support will consist of agricultural kits (seeds and tools).